The joint meeting of the Town Board of the Town of Mount Hope and Village Board of the Village of Otisville was held at Town Hall on February 2, 2015 at 6:30pm with the following present: Supervisor Volpe, Councilman Ketcham, Councilman Howell, Councilwoman Sutherland, Mayor Wona, Trustee Bennett, Trustee Loeven, Trustee Coppola, Trustee Palmer, Village Clerk Christine Dipoalo & Town Clerk Kathleen Myers. NOT PRESENT: Councilman Cambareri.
Supervisor Volpe called the meeting to order at 6:30PM following the Pledge of Allegiance.
Supervisor Volpe: The main purpose of this meeting is to get us ready for the public hearings. We were going to fine tune to be sure we have as much information as we can to educate the public and see where this joint venture may take us. Does anyone have any questions since our last meeting?
Mayor Wona: Think it’s more presentation. Documents that we’re gonna provide at the public hearing. Handouts. The research that we’ve done on our committees. Does anyone disagree?
Trustee Loeven: One thing you can anticipate on the town side; people are gonna want to know the alternative.
Supervisor Volpe: I don’t know. We have fire protection now. Obviously, we have a contract for 16 more months at the bare minimum. If this venture doesn’t go, then we would be back to a fire protection district and put it out to bid. Perhaps Mount Hope Fire would want to continue to do it. Perhaps the village would want to bid some of it, Howells, Greenville. I have no idea. I think because we had such a long relationship with the village it’s all new. It’s not like every year we had 16 bids to open. It had always been the village and now it’s Mount Hope FC.
Trustee Loeven: I think we’re pretty clear on that. I think the general public doesn’t really know how it happened. It’s a contractual process. That alone is something a lot of people don’t understand.
Supervisor Volpe: I think our job, once the district is dissolved, our job is to protect the residents with the best fire protection at the best price. I am assuming if we don’t move ahead with a joint fire district, we’ll put it out to bid and see what bids we get in. It’s too premature. It’s 16 months away. I don’t know if it’s an option to split up the…I know it’s an option to split up the fire protection district. We would have to look at a map and say do we want 2 departments to bid on this particular section. You wouldn’t want Greenville going all the way over to Howells area. It wouldn’t be common sense. I am hoping that doesn’t have to happen. The building of a fire house on the town’s end…this is the research that Brian and I had done with Bob Wheeling. I can make sure we have enough copies to start on Monday. 100 Copies?
Mayor Wona: Do you want to split up…
Supervisor Volpe: If you wanna do one – what exactly do we want to present? Obviously we want to present everything but what do we have to present?
Mayor Wona: The budget…tentative numbers. They are not permanent cause they’ll change when you elect the commissioners. Geographics…
Councilman Howell: The maps I have 2 copies of the map I handed out on a paper. It’s just the Town of Mount Hope with the Village inclusive. It shows the district boundaries. Everything is in color. It’s 2’x3’. I have 2 of them that can be displayed at the meeting.
Mayor Wona: We have the inventory. Those are things we are gonna wanna provide the public. The inventory – of what Otisville has. It’s part of the district process. What other committees did we have?
Trustee Loeven: Strategic planning. But this is very sketchy..just to say that there would be a 5 year plan. Once the decision is made to renovate or to build that it would be a 5 year plan such as that would be put into place.
Mayor Wona: Even with all the information we are providing, it’s the amount of feedback we get from the public. We provide all this information at the 1st meeting hopefully they return to the 2nd meeting because they’ll have questions. We’re gonna be able to gauge at that point after having 3 sessions/public hearings whether people really wanna move forward with this or people don’t. There’s mixed reviews out there. Some people want it to go back to the way it was. Once you break the continuity of something, it doesn’t ever really go back to the way it was.
Supervisor Volpe: I’ve got a lot of feedback but it’s been all over the board. More than anything, people are just confused. We have a district. We’re getting rid of a district. Why would we make a district? What the difference between the 2? A lot of good questions. There’s more district talk in the Town of Mount Hope than anything else.
Mayor Wona: People are gonna want reassurances. Because right now as it stands there was promises made with a joint district with a 2% increase and then there was a 20% increase.
Trustee Bennett: I think the taxpayers in the town are worried that their taxes are gonna go up especially when they hear new fire house. New firehouses aren’t cheap.
Supervisor Volpe: I think ultimately whether it’s this venture…if you talk to the people that have been in the fire company for 30+ years, a lot of them will tell you this has been tried before. Ultimately I think it’s the only option. I’m not saying people are gonna be excited about this with open arms immediately. But within a few years it’s what the state is looking for is the consolidation. Obviously, the town isn’t allowed to own a fire company and that’s why the town doesn’t own a fire company. There were talks that the people wanted to own something. The town paid all of this money and didn’t own anything. By the time you forecast something out and pay for it, you never really own it. Then it’s time to get new equipment. I don’t know that it’s a material thing. As far as the fire house, I don’t think many of the people really care what their fire house looks like. I think they care more about helping the community, hopping in the truck when somebody needs help.
Mayor Wona: We’ve done a lot of things since the separation. We got a containment tank. We got all the oil tanks out of the ground that we had to be in regulation with DEC. We installed a containment tank for the trucks. We still have to work on certain things – like to see a shower area for people, a larger room. It’s a solid building. When is the last time they complained about leaks?
Trustee Bennett: a couple years.
Mayor Wona: We’ve tried to take proper precautions to make sure the building is solid and in good repair. It’s good until we can build a fire house. If this joint municipal district goes ahead, there’s a structure plan on how it’s gonna roll and how you’re gonna build the equity to go build a brand new fire house. It’s a solid structure to get you to that point.
Supervisor Volpe: These 9 pages that forecast out for 5 years, is the only thing we’re handing out?
Trustee Loeven: I think the budget and the map.
Mayor Wona: And the inventory. It’s no secret. Anybody can FOIL our inventory. They can go up and look at our inventory if they want to.
Trustee Loeven: Because this is a sample, we can talk about it. But I don’t know. If people have it, there can be the misconception of well this is exactly what the steps are gonna be. But I think the map is important and I think the budget is what they wanna know about.
Mayor Wona: I would think budget is number 1. Geographically everybody has seen maps with the outlines. Inventory wise – why not? (Discussion about which sheets to copy ensued.)
Supervisor Volpe: Because we are doing it at the senior center, I want to make sure….
Mayor Wona: That’s what I want to discuss because whatever you need – how you want to split the copying…this is a joint venture.
Supervisor Volpe: Because it’s 3 nights, I don’t think it would be weird to have 100 copies of this. So you make 50/we’ll make 50. After the 1st night, we can see what we need. People that come back I don’t think they’re gonna want the whole packet again. (Discussion over the map)
Councilman Howell: The one I passed out the last time isn’t as detailed because what I had done was have the township itself blown up into that 2’x3’ size so you have a clear picture of the roads as well as the boundaries. The roads are etched in this. This is for presentation.
Mayor Wona: Most people that are coming to the public hearing have seen the maps. Visuals are good.
Trustee Bennett: We are submitting the Otisville fire equipment that we have and we are presenting it to create a district? It sounds like we are pushing towards the Otisville fire department because you’re presenting what the Otisville fire department has. It really has nothing to do with the town right now. Correct?
Trustee Coppola: It doesn’t have anything to do with the town but it has to do with the district, if we go joint. Because we would be contributing ….
Trustee Bennett: That’s what I’m trying to get. Are we all in favor of going with a district or are we all dividing it up? Nobody here seems to….
Trustee Coppola: That’s what the public hearing is about. Let the people tell you. We still have to put our cards on the table.
Trustee Loeven: These are the assets that we would have available.
Trustee Coppola: The last one was on the Mount Hope taxpayers. We have these meetings and the consensus of the people is against, where are we going? We gonna just drop it or? Gonna go to vote? Is the 2 boards gonna decide whether it should go to a vote?
Supervisor Volpe: I think if it’s so-so, we have to have a vote. If 100 people walk in the door and 99 of them think it’s a horrible idea, I think we take the census of the people that we are hearing, the people that took the time to come out to the meeting. That’s just my opinion.
Trustee Coppola: I think we should have a game plan for the meeting like the opening statement. Are you going to give the people so long to talk? Lay the rules down as soon as you open the meeting. You got 5 minutes to talk and then you can speak again; just give everyone the courtesy to talk.
Trustee Loeven: In talking about the voting, way back in ancient history, there had been discussion that one of the most obvious ways to do it would be to have the village vote 1st. It minimizes your costs for a while and if it gets voted down in the village, then certainly that’s the end of the joint district. Then it wouldn’t be an issue for the town. Is it still the feelings? Because it’s almost all new players since back then. Would it be that the village has to vote yes and the town within the district has to vote yes? Or would it be the total combined?
Supervisor Volpe: I would think we have to do the total combined. In order to get a fair…
Mayor Wona: It was always presented that way to us at the village. 1st, you would have a consensus at that point whether you want to go ahead. Special elections run money.
Supervisor Volpe: I think a special election would be worth it to get a full census of the whole entire town and village community. I think it gives a more clear.….
Trustee Coppola: if this is gonna be a joint venture, wouldn’t it be the total votes whoever? Say the village did vote it down it could still go to Mount Hope. What if Mount Hope 800 people say yes unless then the village would back out. I think it should be one vote. Then it’s either yes or no.
Supervisor Volpe agreed with Trustee Coppola.
Mayor Wona: I think you’d have a problem with that though.
Trustee Bennett: You have more people living in the town than the village.
Trustee Loeven: Hypothetically, 100% of the village could vote no and we always said we’ll let the village people decide. So if they all vote no but the overall is yes then…
Mayor Wona: then you’ve forced them into something they didn’t want to be a part of.
Supervisor Volpe: That’s why you do it all together. There is no…it’s a total vote. Like we did the school.
Trustee Coppola: When you vote in an election you don’t vote for one person then a week later you vote for the other one.
Mayor Wona: I understand that…you know politics.
Trustee Loeven: The village is giving up a department.
Trustee Coppola: If the village people say no then why should they be forced to join a district if the town people said yes?
Mayor Wona: It’s their opportunity to go into a joint venture. As Chad said and I believe, that we are heading that way to combine services. Cuomo’s laid out that he wants to see plans. Sooner or later 20 years down the road there may not be villages; they may be incorporating into towns.
Supervisor Volpe: It only makes sense. The village could be – if you have a widespread vote vs. just the village, I think we’re gonna get a better, more clear picture because quite honestly depending on who you talk to there’s people that wanna see everything fail and there’s people that wanna see everything succeed. If we base it off of typical polls as far as people that actually come out and vote, we’re gonna see that we’re gonna get 250 maybe from the village; it’s not necessarily the census of the village. It’s not a bad thing. It’s the 250 people that always vote. It’s capable of producing 1,000 votes but we won’t see that. We’re gonna see 25% of the people that come out and vote. And then there’s gonna be the nay-sayers that are gonna go out and do fliers and people for it are probably gonna go out and do fliers. I think it will be a lot harder for it to be tainted if we do the entire township.
Mayor Wona: What I think at this point is we go through with the public hearings and see what the consensus is then we discuss the final details on how we’ll proceed. Once we make the resolution then everything starts rolling. Let’s see who shows up for the village and the town and see what they have to say. Hypothetically, we’re running our course here. Maybe nobody shows up. We’ll find out.
Supervisor Volpe: asked about a 5 minute limit. Mayor Wona: agreed.
Trustee Loeven: and they will only be re-heard after everyone else has a chance.
Town Clerk asked about a microphone for recording purposes.
Supervisor Volpe: agreed to have people come up front to speak. Any other grounds rules?
Mayor Wona: Public hearings are for comments. People may want answers right then and there. Take it as it comes.
Councilman Howell: I think people should state their name and address: town or village.
Supervisor Volpe: They’ll walk in the front – name and address. Town Clerk asked about police coverage. Supervisor Volpe will speak with Police Chief.
Trustee Coppola: For the opening I would say that ‘we’re not here to sell you anything’. Give them the facts. It’s gonna be their decision. We are just here to present the facts. Some people will think both boards are here and they wanna sell us this district.
Supervisor Volpe: Before we open it to public participation, anyone from either board can address the audience with anything that may come to mind that’s pertinent to what we’re talking about…go for it. I am kind of excited to see what the community is going to say. If it’s all positive or negative…I’d like it to sway one way or the other just to get a census. Giving 3 dates gives the opportunity for most of the people that wanna come. After the 1st night if it’s just the 10 of us sitting there then we’ve done our job. Mayor Wona agreed.
Supervisor Volpe suggested to add that written comments would be accepted also. Town Clerk suggested to add it to the public hearing notice, too.
RESOLUTION TO ADJOURN:
MOTION offered by Mayor Wona seconded by Councilman Howell to adjourn meeting at 7:02pm. All in favor – carried.
Kathleen A. Myers, Town Clerk